Guy Capecelatro III
Lean Year Sides
This album came out of nowhere for me. I was a fan of the band Drunk but hadn’t kept up with any of Rick Alverson’s subsequent projects. The spare arrangements with Amilie Rex’s voice hovering on top just slays me. The harmonies remind me a bit of Tricky and the addition of saxophone to the mix is unexpected but works. This was probably my most listened to album of the year and a perfect soundtrack to falling asleep.
The Delines Sea Drift
Another phenomenal album from Richmond Fontaines’ Willy Vlautin and The Damnations TX’s Amy Boone with Vlautin writing all the story-driven, narrative songs and Boone delivering the lead vocals. As ever, it’s got a bit of a lush, 70’s a.m. radio vibe but all the players work together to create a fully realized tapestry.
Anna Tivel Outsiders
At this point there will have to be a serious decline in her work or a tremendous outpouring by other artists for a new Anna Tivel record to be absent from my top ten list. Tivel, along with John K. Samson, is truly at the top of the heap, lyrically; simultaneously inspiring and debilitating for me. With her incredible voice and inspired production by Shane Leonard, it’s truly the whole package.
Florist’s Emily Sprague is not in a rush. Her last album with vocals was 2019’s Emily Alone in which she wrote about losing her mother and realized the songs on her own. For this she holed up, with members of her band, in a house in Hudson Valley and made a collaborative album that also incorporates the more ambient side of her output along with fully realized songs to superb results.
Friendship Love the Stranger
Philadelphia band Friendship signed to Merge Records and released, what I consider, their most solid album to date. It’s chock full of Dan Wriggins’ wry, observational musings that are both bizarre and familiar at the same time. The band is treading a wider swath of sounds with the downright rocking Ryde and an array of different instruments and guest vocalists. Friendship have managed to create a sound that’s thoroughly their own.
Lily Talmers Hope is the Whore I Go To / My Mortal Wound
Michigan-based musician Lily Talmers put out two albums this year, Hope … a fully-realized album with a band and strings and intricate arrangements and My Mortal Wound which is a more understated, minimal expression. Both are fantastic and feature her poetic lyrics and explores a variety of sounds and genres. As she warned on her Kickstarter page, “Warning: Genre is Dead”
Birds in a Row Gris Klein
French hardcore band Birds in a Row create a taut, dynamic propulsive din that really moves the body. They do remind me of La Dispute with their densely lyrical sound but the spoken to shouted power on songs like Noah and Trompe L’oeil are wholely effective and affecting.
Shannen Moser The Sun Still Seems to Move
Shannen Moser took four years to put out this new collection of songs and it really encompasses a lifetime of experience. The songs channel all the everything she’s been dealing with in a very personal way and has a new found depth that make the songs resonate and linger. Her voice is the real feature here, almost classically folk, but lush and emotional. It started out being a simple record, production and arrangement-wise, but then built up through the years to a beautifully realized vision.
Quinn Christopherson Write Your Name in Pink
Since winning NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest in 2019, Quinn Christopherson has been relatively quiet, doing little tours and one-off songs but the long player has finally dropped and it’s a real ride. Utilizing a range of electronic and traditional instruments, Christopherson digs deep in the past to find some meaning in where they’re at and it’s a carefully nuanced journey.
Joan Shelley The Spur
Joan Shelley has been putting out consistently solid records for a bunch of years and motherhood hasn’t slowed her down any. This newest album features some lovely string arrangements and perfect accompaniment from her partner Nathan Salsburg. These songs and Shelley’s voice have a timeless quality and the addition of some Bill Callahan’s vocals really secures this as a top album for me.
Acre Memos A Collection of Bird Songs
Courtney Marie Andrews Change My Mind
Christian Lee Hutson Quitters
Laura Veirs Found Light
Andrew Combs Sundays
Deer Scout Woodpecker
Damien Jurado Reggae Film Star
Carla Geneve Learn to Like it
Nina Nastasia Riderless Horse
EDT It Was a Wave, Of Course
Top TV Shows:
The White Lotus
Better Call Saul
How to with John Wilson
His Dark Materials
The Man Who Fell to Earth
The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Speak No Evil
The Worst Person in the World
Fire of Love
Brian and Charles
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair
The Black Phone
Chris Cote (Almanac Mountain)
Taraka “0010110” (single) – Taraka makes great techno-spiritual art with a prog/punk edge.
Pink Floyd Animals 2018 remix – This remix is wonderful. So much more clarity in every song. You’ll hear things you never knew were buried in there.
Daniel Rossen You Belong There – I’ve always been a fan of DR’s rich, pastoral music palette.
Weyes Blood And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow – I love Natalie Laura Mering’s musical language, which feels like an even more dreamy and lush version of Harry Nilsson’s sleepy vaudeville sound.
Mamalarky Pocket Fantasy – Wonderfully quirky stuff from these irreverent kids.
Other Favorite things:
Favorite TV – The Girl From Plainville
Favorite Film – Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
Favorite coffee – Peruvian Organic from Port City Coffee Roasters, Portsmouth
Favorite Bite – Conch fritters at The Schooner Wharf Bar, Key West
Favorite Fragrance – Sir Gallahad by Isabey
Sean Hood (Eastern Mountain Time)
Top 10 Albums of 2022:
1. Taylor Swift Midnights
2. Spoon Lucifer on the Sofa
3. Sam Buck Out of Control
4. Why Bonnie 90 in November
5. Angel Olsen Big Time
6. Lola Kirke Lady for Sale
7. First Aid Kit Palomino
8. Will Sheff Nothing Special
9. Alex Cameron Oxy Music
10. Plains I Walked with You a Ways
Top 10 Songs of 2022:
1. Spoon “My Babe”
2. Taylor Swift “Midnight Rain”
3. Angel Olsen & Sturgill Simpson “Big Time”
4. Sam Buck “Already”
5. Built to Spill “Gonna Lose”
6. First Aid Kit “A Feeling That Never Came”
7. Em Beihold “Numb Little Bug”
8. Lake Waves “Little Things”
9. Wilco “One More Hour (Sleater-Kinney Cover)”
10. Madi Diaz & Waxahatchee “Resentment (New Feelings Version)”
Top 10 Movies of 2022:
1. Everything Everywhere All at Once
3. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
4. The Outfit
5. Fire Island
6. The Menu
7. Strawberry Mansions
9. Bodies Bodies Bodies
10. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
Dylan Metrano (Tiger Saw)
Top Albums of 2022
- Wet Leg Wet Leg
Seemingly out of nowhere, they appeared full-formed as a perfect good-time rock and roll band. Hooks for days. This debut album is the best music for driving, working, walking, dancing- doing whatever it is that you do.
2. Vieux Farka Touré & Khruangbin Ali
Khruangbin is joined by a second masterful guitarist and pays tribute to Touré’s late father’s music. Singular and wonderful.
3. ROSALÍA Motomami
No one sounds like Rosalía. Future R&B straight outta Spain. She creates a whole world of sound + vision. A killer live show at Fenway.
4. Yeah Yeah Yeahs Cool It Down
Comeback of the year, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs make their best album to date, sounding absolutely current while retaining the sound that made them spark all those years ago. Bonus points for the Perfume Genius’ assist and scenes in the Meet Me in the Bathroom movie.
5. Angel Olsen Big Time
A modern country classic featuring one of the best voices working today.
6. Big Thief Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
Big Thief continues their winning streak with a hugely ambitious double album covering lots of ground, but always with smart songwriting, lots of emotion, and fantastic playing.
7. Dead Gowns How EP
Maine’s finest band released their second EP, and the songs, musicianship, and ideas are just getting stronger and stronger. One to watch for sure.
8. Jens Lekman The Cherry Trees are Still in Blossom and The Linden Trees are Still in Blossom
With a strange backstory (Jens reworked these older albums due to the originals using uncleared samples), these old favorites are new again, and Jens is a master storyteller and inventive producer. Just lovely.
9. Sudan Archives Natural Brown Prom Queen
Sudan Archives is moving R&B forward in her own unique way. Easy get lost in.
10. Valerie June Under Cover
A tasteful collection of covers from a one-of-a-kind singer.
11. Friendship Love the Stranger
Friendship made a splash with their Merge debut, maintaining a solid hold on their own little corner of the world.
12. Brennen Leigh Obsessed with the West
Joined on this album by members of Asleep at the Wheel, Leigh’s got one of those classic country voices you fall in love with instantly.
13. Jonathan Richman Cold Pizza and Other Hot Stuff
With tributes to cold pizza and Dolly Parton, no one does it quite like Richman.
14. Beirut Artifacts
Another great band that’s carved out their own unique place in the world, Beirut gave us a career-spanning collection of outtakes and rarities that somehow still work well as an album.
15. v/a Summer of Soul OST
Though more for the movie itself, this is an irreproachable live collection of late-sixties soul.
16. Khruangbin and Leon Bridges Texas Moon
Another Khruangbin collaboration makes the list! This, a follow-up to their 2020 EP with Leon Bridges. They compliment each other perfectly.
17. Guy Capecelatro III Heading North Again
Capecelatro revisited his North for the Winter album ten years later with a disc of outtakes, re-workings, and new collaborations. A bounty from Maine’s finest songwriter. (Disclosure: I sing a little bit on this album.)
18. Perfume Genius Ugly Season
I was lucky to see the dance performance these songs were originally conceived for, and this album is somewhere between that noisy stew and the majestic avant-pop we’ve come to expect from the band.
19. Weyes Blood And In the Darkness, Hearts Aglow
Amazing melodies, adventurous production. Both oddly familiar and foreign at the same time.
20. Plains I Walked With You a Ways
Summer soundtrack featuring Katie from Waxahatchee.
RIP Raymond Raposa, Mimi Parker, Jerry Lee Lewis, Mark Lanegan, Ronnie Spector
I encountered a lot of great art this year, but the following albums (and a re-discovered song), books, television series (and a documentary film), and live music performances were particular sources of inspiration…
Albums (and a re-discovered single):
Guy Capecelatro III and Mike Effenberger Sneak into the Ether
Spoon (with Adrian Sherwood) Lucifer on the Moon
The Smile A Light for Attracting Attention
Neil Young and Crazy Horse “Oh Susannah”, Americana (2012)
The Last Days of Roger Federer: and other Endings, Geoff Dyer
Exile on Main Street (33 1/3), Bill Janovitz
TV Series (and a documentary film):
The White Lotus (HBO)
This is Sparklehorse
Sad Bastards at the Book and Bar in Portsmouth, NH
Holden Brown and the Wishes at the Press Room in Portsmouth
Documentaries / Docuseries
1. Andy Warhol Diaries
2. Bikes of Wrath
4. Frank Lloyd Wright
5. Won’t You be My Neighbor?
6. How to Change Your Mind
7. Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes
8. Sunshine Hotel
9. Couples Therapy
10. Trainwreck: Woodstock ‘99